Michael Yon describes how a widely held misperception can almost become reality if repeated often enough.
I write these words from Indonesia, soaking wet, having just returned from photographing rice paddies in a pouring rain, wearing a Florida Gators shirt. That means there is a green alligator on my chest. While supporting my team, my shirt perpetuates the myth that alligators are green, when in fact they are black when wet, gray when dry.The mantra that “there is no political progress in Iraq” is rapidly becoming the “surge” equivalent of a green alligator: when enough people repeat something that sounds plausible, but also happens to be false, it becomes accepted as fact.
The green alligator effect was in evidence at Nashua, NH when Barack Obama attempted to explain what he might do differently in Iraq. Philip Elliott of AP reports (emphasis mine):
Answering a question on how he would refocus U.S. troops out of Iraq to better fight terrorism, he said, "We've to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there."
Earlier this month, Obama drew criticism when he said he would send troops into Pakistan to hunt down terrorists even without local permission, if warranted.
North, who is considering an Obama endorsement and backed Howard Dean in 2004, praised Obama as someone fresh, but she said she worried that he was hurting himself.
Personally I'm not aware of any respectable source, even those that are opposed to the policy underlying OIF, that seriously maintain that Coalition forces are just "air-raiding villages" and tootling around "killing civilians". The recent Brookings Index on Iraq actually does describe the process of indiscriminately bombing villages and killing civilians, such as for example on Page 10. But these are attacks by al-Qaeda or terrorist insurgents. There are other tables depicting attacks by sectarian militias on civilians. There are tables describing homicides. But there are none describing the activity which Barack Obama says he will curb.
It's the Green Alligator, gawping in all its toothy magnificence.